Polar Tank Trailer LLC has announced that employees represented by District 165 Local 623 of the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 165 have elected to strike the company’s manufacturing facility in Opole, MN. The Opole plant produces stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon steel tank trailers for liquid bulk products. Polar’s facilities in Holdingford, MN and Springfield MO. are not affected by the job action.
Polar stated it in a news release that it has “activated contingencies to ensure the continued production of tank trailers at Opole.” Polar marketing manager Tim Kelly told FleetOwner that the main contingency is the hiring of replacement workers to keep the plant open, at least at reduced capacity.
IAM Local 165 represents approximately 365 employees at the Opole plant. The collective bargaining agreement between Polar and the union expired on Nov. 30.
Polar said it has within the past year secured new five-year labor agreements with employees at Holdingford, MN and Springfield, MO.
Polar’s wages and benefits are recognized as a “premier compensation package,” Kelly told FleetOwner. “We have a great offer on the table,” he said, but declined to discuss any sticking points with the union. He went on to say that Polar is committed to working with the union to secure a five-year agreement for the Opale plant as well.
“Investing in our employees is one way we can help our customers be more competitive and efficient,” said Frank Lukacs, president of Polar Tank Trailer, in a statement. “We’re committed to negotiating an agreement that will benefit our employees and help us meet the quality, cost, and delivery expectations of our customers.”
A spokesperson for IAM’s Midwest office told FleetOwner that the Opale vote was 261 to 25 in favor of going on strike. He said it was his understanding that IAM Disttrict 165 and Polar have a meeting scheduled for December 9th..
“IAM District 165 is willing to meet with the company at any time and any place to negotiate in good faith,” the spokesperson added. “Our goal is to make sure our members receive the wages, benefits, working conditions they deserve.”
Polar’s Kelly noted that the manufacturer is clearly committed to the Opale plant given that it recently embarked on a $5-million capital improvement project aimed at improving efficiency via lean manufacturing as well as extending the facility’s footprint.
Polar is North America’s largest manufacturer of aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon steel tank trailers. It is part of the St. Cloud, MN-based Polar Corp. family of companies, which includes Polar Service Centers and Quality Trailer Products.